New Zealand is known as the “youngest country on
earth” since it was the last one to be colonized by
the human race at the farthest end of the land chain
relative to the Old World some eight hundred years
There is no definite data on when this country was
first inhabited by humans or precisely where they
Dates of arrival are from 1200 to 1000 AD and the
geographical origin is located in a triangle which
includes Tonga, Hawaii, and Tahiti.
Historians, however, are in complete agreement that
Polynesians were the first people to colonize New Zealand.
The Maori, the first people of the country to come in
contact with Europeans, have traditional stories of a time
when their ancestors migrated from their homeland known as "Hawaiki"
following an investigative visit to the islands by Kupe, an
Archeology and research from the late twentieth
century has mostly discarded this idea. The experts
suggest that there occurred a succession of
migrations over a long period of time from different
Polynesian regions. The classic culture of the Maori
has firm kinships with the Society Islands.
The primary groups of Polynesian to arrive in New
Zealand were wiped out and absorbed by tribes that
came later. These were the ones with the oral
tradition regarding the mass canoe immigration. They
joined together and are now known to be the Maori.
Findings in the South Islands have recognized the
existence of the kiore or native Polynesian rat as
having been on the islands only after circa 1200 AD.
There are no other indigenous land mammals in New
Zealand aside from a species of bats and the
tuatara, an ancient lizard linked with dinosaurs.
The tuatara is actually sometimes referred to as
"the living dinosaur." The only other animals living
on land were birds.
The existence of the kiore, consumed by the Maori as
a delicacy, proves explicitly the presence of humans
from this era since the kiore can only have arrived
from across the seas.
The latest finding of weather-beaten artifacts,
together with the remnants of an ancient cloak of
woven fabric, the most ancient human objects
discovered in New Zealand, on the east coast of the
South Island on the Kaitorere Spit are believed to
be circa 1200 AD.
Diet patterns have been established by stratigraphy
among the ancient people of New Zealanders.
Dunghills started in the twelfth century with big
bones of moa, ranging down all the way through the
species through the years to really small birds.
Until contact with Europeans seal, fish, and
shellfish carcasses dominated the midden.
In the period of the Classic Maori, kure or Polynesian dog
bones from oversea were also found, even though this species
is now wiped out as a determinable New Zealand species.
A sweet potato called kumara is a staple of the culture and
diet of the Classic Maori. Interestingly, the kumara is
indigenous to South America. This hints that some kind of
contact may have occurred with the coast of South American
before the island hopping Polynesians journeyed to New